Mallow Shootings - 31 Jan 1921

On the night of 31st January, 1921 at about 10.20 p.m. the RIC County Inspector, Captain William H. King was shot at near Mallow railway station. Captain King, was wounded, but his wife Alice Mary King (born 1880 in Ireland) was shot dead.  In the hours that followed 3 civilians died. The pattern of events is difficult to follow, each side has its own spin. A news item says an ADRIC cadet was arrested and brought back for trial, but I cannot find any trial. My feeling is that men were indiscriminately shot at Mallow

The Irish view is that a group of ADRIC and/or Black and Tans came out of the barracks in Mallow on hearing the news. They were billeted at 'Broadview', close to the station, and it served as a barracks for the local Black and Tans during the War of Independence. At the time of the shooting of the Kings about 100 rail workers were on duty at the station and arrested many of the workers. A little later a party of Black and Tans, under a head constable, opened fire on the engine driver and fireman of a goods train which had just arrived from Thurles. In the waiting-room attached to the locomotive department a number of railway men were preparing for work when the place was raided by the police. All the men were ordered out on to the road outside the station, with their hands over their heads. They were then told to run for their lives. They were then fired upon and most were wounded while three were shot dead. They were

A witness statement from one of the IRA group who carried out the attack on Capt and Mrs King, indicates that they were not targeting King. Other evidence shows that the weather was very bad and that the IRA probably mistook Mrs King in a raincoat for an Auxiliary

WS 1015 . The Column was armed with rifles, about 50 rounds of ammunition for each. Some members had revolvers. Those members of the Column who were not in their home area were billeted in the Lombardstown district particularly at Paddy Murphy's, Dan Healy's and Riordan's. About the end of January the Column moved into the Mourney Abbey area where they lay in ambush a few times but the expected enemy did not turn up. In the meantime a report was received by the Column 0/C. that a party of three or four Black & Tans were in the habit of visiting Mallow Railway Station about the time the night mail train was due to leave Mallow each night at 9.30 p.m. They were, apparently, taking some letters to the railway for dispatch by the "Mail". The C.0. decided to ambush this party so on 31st January, 1921 he took five other members of the Column to Hallow Railway Station where they were placed as follows :- (a) Four - Jack Moloney ("Congo"), Denis Mulcahy, Jeremiah Daly (witness) and the Column O/C. (Jack Cunningham) took up a position behind a wall facing the road to the station entrance. They were armed with revolvers. (b) No - Leo O'Callaghan and Ned Murphy - were on duty on the road at the opposite side of the railway in order to cover off any approach from the rear. They also carried revolvers. When a party of three was seen to approach, the ambush party as at (a)opened fire. There was no reply from the Tans. The R.I.C. and Black & Tans who were In the barracks less than 250 yards away immediately rushed' to the railway station. They began to fire shots indiscriminately. Three railway employees were shot dead while a number were also wounded. The ambush party at (a) then withdrew across the railway and retired with the Column O.C.

A book was published - An account of the Mallow shootings (January 31st, 1921) by L. Barbara Hammond, prepared specially for the NUR at the request of the Rt. Hon. J. H. Thomas, M.P.

1921 Feb 28. Question in Parliament. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY (by Private Notice) asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland why the court enquiring into the recent occurrences at Mallow have refused to allow Captain King to be called as a witness? Sir H. GREENWOOD The suggestion contained in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question is wholly without foundation. County Inspector King is at present on sick leave in Scotland where he is now undergoing specialist's treatment. It will not be possible for him to return to Ireland for some weeks. The House will remember that this gallant officer was himself wounded on the night of the 31st January last when his wife was brutally murdered in his arms. The facts are that special steps have been taken to obtain Captain King's evidence by affidavit in the form of a series of questions set down by Mr. Healy, K.C., and by the court. The court will consider the answers to these questions before they arrive at a decision in this matter.

The Military Inquiry into the shootings was later carried out by the British. Its president was Colonel Commandant H. R. Cumming, D.S.O., who was killed at the Clonbanin ambush before the enquiry had ended.  The findings of the enquiry came out after the death of Cummings

1. The events at Mallow Station on the night of 31st January, 1921, commenced with an attack about 10.20 p.m. on County Inspector Captain W. H. King, E.I.C., and his wife, Mrs. Alice Mary King, whereby both were wounded. Mrs. Alice Mary King subsequently died as the result thereof early in the morning of let February, 1921.

2. That the casualties were caused by shots fired from the Railway Station premises on the West side of the Hill leading up to the Station. That although there is no evidence to show who the individuals were who fired such shots, yet the persons who did so must either have had a thorough knowledge of the Railway Premises, or have been guided by some Person or Persons who had such knowledge.

 3. That an Ambush had been previously prepared, and that parties thereof were posted but that there is no evidence to show such Ambush was definitely planned against Captain W. H. King and his wife. That shots were fired by ebels from all above three Points {inter alia) during the evening in question.

4. That the R.I.C. did, in the execution of their duty, search certain Railway Employees and others, and made several arrests.

5. That the R.I.C. did remove Signalmen from their respective Cabins without having previously provided suitable or any reliefs.

6. That one Signalman, Joseph Greensmith, received injuries which at his age are serious, but the Court are satisfied that he is mistaken in stating same were caused by Military.

7. That the persons arrested (paragraph 4) were dispatched in two parties to the Military Barracks, Mallow. The first party reached there safely. The second party (which included the three Railway Employees since dead and those who were wounded) came under Rebel Fire from the vicinity of the South Signal Cabin

8. That the Rebel Fire referred to in paragraph 7 was immediately returned by R.I.C., and that such " Return Fire " unavoidably caused some of the casualties in the said second party.

9. That from the location and character of the wounds, one of such casualties at least was caused by Rebel Fire. That one R.I.C. was at the same time wounded by a Pellet from a Shot Gun, and that neither the Military nor R.I.C. were armed with such weapons on the night in question.

10. Consequent on the allegations made in the House of Commons, the Court are satisfied from the evidence :

Questions asked by a Railway MP were detailed. The full speech is here, but the nub of it is

The Irish Railway Union threatened strike action

 

Incidents